The past 6 months have been the most productive 6 months of my life. Probably not the healthiest. But most certainly the most productive.
I’ve fulfilled a lifelong dream of founding a company. I’ve built multiples streams of passive income. And I’ve learned a ton.
I’ve also had some time to pursue a passion project, picked up a new passion, and I’m currently at the start of a 2 month long “digital nomad” adventure.
I’ve been writing these “lessons learned” posts every 6 months to help me think through everything I’ve learned and what I’m planning to do going forward. I actually wasn’t planning to write one this half, but for some reason felt compelled. Maybe it’s because I’m at somewhat of a breaking point. Or Maybe it’s just because 6 months is a perfect interval for reflection. But anyways…here’s what I’ve been up to, am up to, and will be up to:
At the beginning of the year I took the leap into entrepreneurship. It has been a wild ride. Overall though the stress to fun ratio has been improving and it looks like my hard work is starting to pay off.
Pride. It has been a dream of mine since I was a kid to start a company. My reasons for wanting to start a company have changed, but the goal hasn’t. I take great pride in creating for myself and being self sufficient.
Uncertainty. The biggest challenge for me over the past six months has been dealing with uncertainty. The reality is, employees face uncertainty too. The company they work for might go bankrupt. They might get fired. They might want to change industries or professions. They might not get the responsibilities they want. The uncertainty makes it hard to think about the future. I’ve realized I need to accept that there will always be uncertainty if I want to continue on this path.
When I graduated from college, I didn’t have many marketable skills or credentials. That’s changed.
Digital marketing is the most marketable skill I’ve ever had. More specifically: content marketing, copywriting, SEO, design, UX, basic coding, etc. I learned it because I’ve needed it to start and grow my businesses (not because a college professor told me I needed it). One indication of it’s marketability is the amount of people who have reached out to me to consult for them despite me never expressing publicly or privately that I do consulting.
Customer development has been the most valuable skill I’ve ever learned as it pertains to entrepreneurship. Having been starting, or attempting to start, companies since I was a teenager, I feel so much more equipped now. It has made me significantly more effective at generating, validating, and screening business ideas — identifying problems and figuring out how to solve them. It feels like I’m swinging a corked bat, or counting cards in blackjack.
I have completely drank the Lean Startup Kool-Aid. I chug it every morning.
Writing has become a new passion. It’s also a great skill to have in that self-publishing has been a great source of passive income for me and it’s a key component of content marketing. It’s also led me to some amazing consulting and networking opportunities.
Entrepreneurship is a Career
I’m starting to think of entrepreneurship more as a “career” than a “job.” Entrepreneurship takes time. I don’t need to do everything all at once. I’m still young. In fact, It might be detrimental to try everything all at once and beneficial to wait. It’s just like trying to run a marathon before running a 5k. Or trying to swallow an entire steak in one bite instead of piece by piece.
Most entrepreneurs I know work on multiple companies over the course of their career. Some don’t even start until their much older. I think the idea that all entrepreneurs are young is a common misconception. While the young entrepreneurs might get most of the press, data shows older entrepreneurs may be creating most of the value.
Employees need to think long-term too. The employee must learn, get experience, build relationships, build credentials, etc.
What I’m learning (hard skills, soft skills, domain expertise), and the passive income streams I have in place, are putting me in a great position to be successful going forward. While I may not be working on the most ambitious projects right now, I think in a couple years I’ll be more qualified and even more motivated to build a huge company.
I’m currently applying Lean to my life and running an experiment to see if I like travel. If I do, I’ll probably take off again when I get back. If I don’t, I wont. But I’m not going to make any decision until I get back. I’m just going to enjoy the next two months.
This is the view from my “desk” this morning as I’m writing this. I have uncertainty about my business, my goals, my future, my next business, where to travel to, whether or not to travel at all, even where to live. But right now I am in France. So right now I am in France 🙂